United Natural Foods, Inc., the leading national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods and related products, announced the establishment of a charitable foundation committed to supporting healthy, sustainable and organic food systems. UNFI Foundation is scheduled to launch on August 1, 2012.

The Foundation will work to fund innovative non-profit programs emphasizing a number of areas including sustainable agriculture and organic farming as well as initiatives designed to increase organic food production and consumption. The Foundation will also seek to fund educational programs to enhance awareness of the benefits of healthy food choices.

Melody Meyer, Vice-President of Global Initiatives for UNFI's subsidiary Albert's Organics, has been named Executive Director of the Foundation and will serve on its Board of Directors along with Steven Spinner, UNFI's President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Funk, UNFI's Chairman of the Board, Thomas Dziki, UNFI's Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resource and Sustainability Officer, and Lisa Madsen, UNFI's Director, Sustainability & Philanthropy, Internal Communications.

UNFI has a long history of philanthropic endeavors including supporting the communities it serves and proactive support of sustainable agriculture and organic farming initiatives, labeling campaigns and nutritional education, including the Organic Trade Association, the Non-GMO Project, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Eco-Farm Conference, Mid-West Organic Sustainable Education Services and Vitamin Angels. "As we launch UNFI Foundation, we look to continue the advancement of socially responsible initiatives that protect the environment and foster stewardship of the land," commented Steven Spinner.

Beginning August 1, 2012, the Foundation will accept mission-specific grant applications from eligible 501(c)(3) organizations based in the United States. The Foundation's Board of Directors will consider each qualified application and expects to begin approving grants later this year. Preliminary information is available at www.unfifoundation.org and application guidelines will be updated later this year.

"The establishment of the Foundation speaks to UNFI's core values," added Melody Meyer. "This initiative provides another wonderful opportunity for UNFI to make a meaningful difference, right at the beginning, where it counts. Everything we do starts at the farm."